Claims Audit Manager, National General Insurance
Living with bipolar disorder

Bob’s illness cost him his 24-year marriage and custody of his children, sending him into a downward spiral that left him broke, unemployed and nearly homeless. Today, thanks to a strict regimen of medication and therapy, he has rebuilt his life. He’s back successfully working in his chosen career field, is happily married and has wonderful relationships with his children and grandchildren. He regularly attends church and feels his spirituality has returned. Success for him is having “God, family and work” back in his life – all things he though he might never have again.

Bob’s Story

What was your most difficult time?

After my divorce, I spent two years alone, with many med changes and side effects and without the companionship of my children. Due to the financial impact of my divorce, I was living in a friend’s dilapidated cabin, sleeping on a mattress on the floor. I pawned nearly everything I had. I tried working in different jobs but I was fired from all of them. It was the most painful experience of my life.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

It took lots of time consistently doing the right things: finding the right mix of medications; seeing my doctor monthly; weekly talk therapy; practicing mindfulness techniques; and employing coping strategies such as reading, writing, exercise, and sleep. Staying consistent over time was absolutely essential. You can’t skip that step. Finally, meeting my wife and getting my career back on track also made a huge difference.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I am very strict about managing my condition with medication and talk therapy. These are a must for me. I use coping strategies like reading and writing (early every morning), exercising (three to four days a week) and getting plenty of sleep (8+ hours a day) to aid in my treatment program.

I understand my triggers and I manage them to the best of my ability. I also know that I need to be careful with what I do when I am undergoing a med change. In addition, I know what things upset me the most, and I use mindfulness techniques to manage them.

What words of encouragement would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

You can have a great life if you get on a treatment plan, prescribed by a psychiatrist, and stick to it, no matter what. It will probably take meds and talk therapy, along with developing a lot of solid coping skills. And you may need to make adjustments, as needed and prescribed by your doctor. But it will be worth it.